May 2, 2014:
Naaaaaaaaa-suhWENya! WanaBEEzeewhen-aaahhhh! Okay, you probably have no idea what I’m trying to replicate here (but if you do – five gold stars!).
We rose the next morning before sunrise. The sky was choked at first with soft, billowing blue clouds, covering every inch of the space overhead with only one sliver of light growing in the east. As the sun rose, the blue canopy began to dissipate and everything turned a fiery shade of pink.
Now you’ll understand — Naaaaaaaaa-suhWENya! WanaBEEzeewhen-aaahhhh!
I went for a sunrise paddle that morning – left before the sun rose, and watched it taint the sky as it climbed the horizon. I felt like I was the center of the Circle of Life! Everything seemed to open, bloom and awake around me and change from a dusky blue to a golden pink.
Pelicans were swimming and flying right along side of me.
Hey whenyahhna. Hey, heywhenyahhhna …
The water was rippled pink, purple and blue and the only sound I could hear was my paddle dipping in and out of the water. (Well, other than the African Lion King chants I was wailing in my head).
Hey whenyahhna. Hey, heywhenyahhhna …
And then I emerged!
“THE CIIIIRRRR-CUUULLL OF LIFE!!”
Okay, it wasn’t that dramatic in reality. I just pulled up to the boat.
But, it was an intensely serene sunrise paddle. Such a beautiful area right around our boat to tool around in.
I paddled around Bird Island. I didn’t know – then- that the other was called Snake Island, but I’m glad, now, that I avoided it! Since it was our first day in a new port, we decided to what any good adventurer would do … get out and explore! We walked around the boat a bit and checked out the cool rock jetty (Venice Inlet) that leads out into the Gulf – knowing we would be headed out that way in just a few days.
We noticed it was both (1) very narrow:
and (2) very rocky:
A bit of a bad combination for entry and exit in a boat, particularly in rough seas. The sea state was still kicked up with the storm rolling in to Clearwater, so we knew we would be hunkering down in Venice for at least a day or two. But, I tell ya, it wasn’t a bad place to be! We had the boat nice and secure at an excellent marina,
and we had attracted some friends around the boat.
And the jetty, inlet and Gulf waters were beautiful. Lots of folks came out it seemed to eat lunch, sit and read, and just hang out around the jetty. Excellent walking/meander grounds.
But, like I said — we were ready to explore! A little further than what was achievable on foot. So, remember the free bike rental I mentioned at Crow’s Nest Marina for marina guests?
Suh-weet! We checked us out a free pair and set to it!
The area around the jetty was really nice, and it was a perfect sunny day for a bike ride, so we decided to make a day of it. We biked … all … over!
Adorable little condos and townhouses by Crow’s Nest. Many of them had stairwells up to the roof where they had set up a little sunbathing area on top of their house!
Quaint shaded streets and light traffic made for perfect neighborhood cruising among HUGE banyan trees.
I almost crashed five times trying to look up at the Spanish Moss. Well, I take that back, I almost crashed several times because I’m just well, accident prone, and I was shooting while biking, AND I’m a blonde. So, I had a lot working against me. But, I somehow managed to stay upright. The biking was actually excellent exercise for the knee which still had a little pain and a pop, but was improving daily. We found an excellent public beach access that appeared to be the perfect place to set up for kiting if we got some favorable winds while we were there.
We actually met a kiter who was out there setting up that morning and chatted him up for a bit.
He told us the thermal winds in that area were usually pretty steady, meaning you couldn’t trust the wind prediction. It was always off. Good to get the local wind scoop!
Wind scoop …
We rode our bikes all the way to town!
Annnd, I didn’t crash taking that shot either! You’re welcome.
We found this awesome 1950’s throw-back trinket shop – Nifty Nic Nacs!
So true …
Take an old photo, put a funny caption on it and BOOM! I just love these things!
Apparently, the shopkeep didn’t LOVE my love of them, though. He totally busted me for taking photos of his stuff. Sorrryyy! It’s just cause it’s such cool stuff! The lengths I go to to capture our adventures for you all … I could have been arrested!
Having biked all morning, we set our sights on lunch. A little research told us this Blue Island Bistro was the hot lunch spot in Venice, and boy were they right!
Quaint little bistro atmosphere overlooking the hotel pool.
A pile of hand-made shoestring onion rings, three chicken, avocado and lime salsa tacos and a piled-high pork & coleslaw sandwich later, and Phillip and I could barely walk, much less pedal! It took us a while to roll out of our seats and ease back onto our bikes to make the trek back to the marina, but it was totally worth it. That was a mighty tasty lunch!
We had good timing, too, because just as we made our way back to the boat, we got to see first-hand what that storm that was headed to Clearwater looked like. Our marina was haunted with looming grey clouds and dark horizons.
We hunkered down in the boat for a bit to wait for the storm to pass.
I actually love being on the boat when a storm comes through. Granted, I don’t want to be buried in a wicked thunderstorm, but it’s a neat feeling to be on your boat, on the water, out in the middle of a torrential downpour, but you’re dry and secure, watching it all first-hand. It’s kind of like getting a cozy, front-row seat to some of Mother’s Nature’s most amazing displays. And, our boat needed the rinse, so we were fine to let it pour, pour, pour!
I tell you one thing that rain didn’t clean, though, was the paddle board! Remember the new “friend” we had made at the marina? The one I thought was so cute because he was hanging on our dock line? I had been snapping shots of him that morning, telling Phillip “Look, Phillip, we’ve got a little buddy!” Awww … how cute!
Well, he turned out to be a real shitty friend, that bird! He used our paddle board as his own personal hunting perch and he SHAT all over it!
That terd! It took some serious industrial scrubbing to get it clean!
But, we got it clean, and cleaned ourselves up as well. The previous night, we had fine-dined at the swanky top floor of the Crow’s Nest Marina restaurant, so this time we decided to check out the casual, cozy tavern on the bottom floor.
I required some serious industrial cleaning as well after the foul fowl discharge clean-up! But, I think I turned out alright. You can’t see the elephant arm at all! We mozied around the marina a bit to check out this huge fishing boat that had pulled in for quick cover during the flash storm.
And, just as we were walking the docks, checking the boat out, we saw this other sailboat come flying in. The boat would easily qualify as a “work-in-progress.” It had big, brown paint patches in places, no lifelines to speak of and a few buckets and board planks lying around on deck. The boat made a quick u-turn near the fishing boat where we were standing and then started on a beeline back toward our boat – just hauling through the marina (which always makes you nervous). It’s like watching a car up ahead on the interstate swerving and screeching around. You’re either going to ease back and stay out of the way, or floor it when you pass them to make sure they don’t careen into you. But, the problem was, we weren’t on the boat! Meaning, we had no way of getting our boat out of harm’s way. We both craned our necks up and watched with tight-lip frowns as the blazing boat made a quick turn into the slip right next to us (not on us, at least). Whew! It was clear they weren’t going to hit our boat, but they were still barreling into the slip, headed straight for the dock. Phillip and I both started running toward their bow as one of the crew on the fishing boat shouted:
“THEY’RE COMING IN HOT!!”